God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Wallis: A New Gilded Age

posted by God's Politics

The New York Times ran two pieces this week that tell us a great deal about where our country is economically. On Sunday’s front page, “The Richest of the Rich, Proud of a New Gilded Age” told the story of how

many of the nation’s very wealthy chief executives, entrepreneurs and financiers echo an earlier era—the Gilded Age before World War I—when powerful enterprises, dominated by men who grew immensely rich, ushered in the industrialization of the United States. The new titans often see themselves as pillars of a similarly prosperous and expansive age, one in which their successes and their philanthropy have made government less important than it once was.

The story noted:

Only twice before over the last century has 5 percent of the national income gone to families in the upper one-one-hundredth of a percent of the income distribution—currently, the almost 15,000 families with incomes of $9.5 million or more a year, according to an analysis of tax returns by the economists Emmanuel Saez at the University of California, Berkeley and Thomas Piketty at the Paris School of Economics. Such concentration at the very top occurred in 1915 and 1916, as the Gilded Age was ending, and again briefly in the late 1920s, before the stock market crash. Now it is back…

As if to prove the scientific law that for every action, there is an opposite reaction, the Monday front page headlined “A New Populism Spurs Democrats on the Economy.”

Democrats are talking more and more about the anemic growth in American wages and the negative effects of trade and a globalized economy on American jobs and communities. They deplore what they call a growing gap between the middle class, which is struggling to adjust to a changing job market, and the affluent elites who have prospered in the new economy.

It is indeed time for a new populism, a new progressive era. Charges of class warfare will certainly be raised, and when they are, let us point out that it is indeed—the class warfare of tax cuts and budget priorities that make the rich richer while decimating low-and middle-income families.



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jesse

posted July 18, 2007 at 5:28 pm


The federal tax system in the US is progressive–the rich pay a large majority of the taxes in the US. Wallis wants it to be more progressive. What Biblical arguments are there for progressive taxation or soaking the rich dry? The only mention I see of a sort of tax system in the Bible was in tithing, which was, of course, a flat tax.
There are many good pragmatic arguments against progressive taxation–mainly, that it can stifle investment, job growth, and the economy as a whole. The most compelling to me is still moral, however. To me, redistributionism via progressive taxation seems fundamentally unjust and break the two commands against theft and envy. Any thoughts?



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bren

posted July 18, 2007 at 5:50 pm


This is a time when I wish that all of today’s stories were linked to each other on the computer. They certainly link to each other in terms of theme. Before discussing the federal tax system, it’s useful to read Brian McLaren’s article about consumerism, and the article about Wal-Mart, that colossus that makes it so easy for us to consume.
The reality is that the split between the rich and the poor is ever-wider. A British paper has described that split as reminiscent of Edwardian times (i.e., early 20th century), with lots of people in the (literal) poorhouse. Is this the kind of society we strive to build for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren?
I think we have to decide what kind of society we are striving to build and only then, determine what tools will help us build it.



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 18, 2007 at 7:23 pm


bren I think where I disagree is not just your view of what kind of society you want , its using the government as the means .
It is one thing to promote justice , but it is another to use “force” to do it . You do realize that is what government is doing , its taking things from us in order to function . I have often seen the rich or poor demonized in order to make one’s political philospy seem more justified .
The difference between a Republic and a democracy is in a republic , the democracy has to abide by set upon rules .
This is where liberal and conservative Christians differ , the role of government . I could argue that cultures never survive by taking away the incentive for their people to prosper all day long , because to you government helping more is just the same thing as when I give or volunteer say for the local Union Gospel Mission .
I do know one thing , it appears the Church has a problem with in itself , and it is a shame those with political views have allowed the church to be just a another voice at the table .



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Sarasotakid

posted July 18, 2007 at 8:14 pm


While the US tax system is somewhat progressive (insofar as it is not a flat tax), it is much less progressive than it was, say two or three decades ago prior to the Reagan era. While nobody wants to take the incentives away for entrepreneurs to invest, create jobs and add to the economy, there is a shared societal responsibility to care for the poor and less fortunate. And while the government may not be all that we want it to be, the church cannot flatten the curve in a meaningful way. So let’s have the government do its job and help the less fortunate.



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Andy

posted July 18, 2007 at 9:57 pm


To me, redistributionism via progressive taxation seems fundamentally unjust and break the two commands against theft and envy. Any thoughts?
and a regressive tax as well as the rich making the majority of our money breaks Christ’s commandments against greed. and stealing is when someone takes something from somebody else against their will. If someone is rich and living in the United States they must agree to pay taxes. If they don’t like it, they can move somewhere else. That’s like saying if the government charges any money for anything they are breaking God’s commandments. Sounds kind of unrealistic to me.



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Bruce

posted July 18, 2007 at 10:05 pm


Jesse,
It is true that families with the highest 10% of income pay about 60% of all income tax and the top 25% pay about 90% of all tax revenue. And tax rates are progressive. So the tax system in somewhat progressive. What’s also true is that many in the upper middle class pay between 35-40% of their income in federal income tax and social security taxes while the richest 1% only pay 18%. It you drill down into that richest 1% and look at corporate CEO’s and old money families, you will find that their taxes only amount to 5-10% of their income. For example, John Kerry/Theresa Hines pay $5 million in taxes in 2003. His campaign released that figure. Their estate is worth $1 billion. Assuming a concervative rate of return of 5% on their money, they had true income of $50 million. Thus their $5 million tax payment only represented 10% of their income, far less than the 25%-40% that the vast majority of americans pay in federal income and social securty taxes.
Yes, high marginal taxes takes away money for capital investment. But, it’s only the capital investment in small business that creates net new jobs. Multinational profits have been associated with outsourcing of jobs and suppression of middleclass wages.



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M North

posted July 18, 2007 at 10:07 pm


As Christians, “left” and “right” are largely irrelevant shorthand passed down from elites sitting at the right side of the king and the others at the left. Too often, conservatism means simply protecting the status quo – and that is always going to be favored by elites currently benefitting from whatever societal arrangements are in place. These are definitely not the poor. Even right-wing-christian magazine editor Marvin Olasky, who originally formulated the concept, has
proclaimed “compassionate conservatism” dead now. The core of Jesus’ teachings is contained in Matthew 5 and 6. How do our motives, practices and institutions conform to his teaching? I posit that anything less than various methods to carry out those teachings are in fact not Christianity at all. Leftism can be utopian and dysfunctional, and too often conservatism becomes an opaque intellectual justification of greed.



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Anonymous

posted July 18, 2007 at 10:16 pm


Jesse,
The Biblical rationale for redistribution of wealth comes from several narratives. First is the Year of Jubillee passages in Leviticus in which debts were forgiven every 7 years and agricultural land was returned to the families who originally owned it every 50 years. The emphasis was not on all wealth, but rather the means of production in that society. The issue was insuring that families had the means to support themselves. That means of supporting themselves was to be returned to them periodically.
In the Gospels, Jesus frequently spoke of care for the poor. The societal pressure that ultimately led to his execution was as much his challenge to the abuse in the economic system as much as it was to any religious customs. Both Jesus and God knew his death was coming and knew it had to happen, but it played out in the context of the society and economy that He lived in.



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Paul C. Quillman

posted July 18, 2007 at 10:42 pm


Keep your progressive tax system to your self. I clean houses for a living, and my income greatly depends on the rih being taxed less. I do not want your government handouts, I would be grateful to run to the benevelonce committee at my churh to pick up any slack (and have done so before). The church is equiped to not only provide unmet needs, but also to walk along side me and carry me through a tough time. All the government does is give me food stamps. Give me the Gospel!!!



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Jeff

posted July 18, 2007 at 10:44 pm


“The societal pressure that ultimately led to his execution was as much his challenge to the abuse in the economic system as much as it was to any religious customs.”
Example? I’m not challenging you, I’m just curious.
Thanks



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Alan Clapsaddle

posted July 18, 2007 at 11:12 pm


Jesse,
A different perspective on ‘soaking the rich.’ In Mark 10:17 the Rich Young Ruler asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. The Lord’s answer, which the scripture says he gave because he felt love for him was, ” One thing you lack: go and sell all you posses and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” The Bible say the Rich Young Ruler left saddened, because he had much wealth.
The biblical prescription for living in Christian community is found in Acts 2:44-47, it is counter-cultural but it is the way to live as the blessed community. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
I would say that the Biblical position is that the rich who provide for the poor and others are blessed, not put upon.
Grace and Peace,
Alan



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kevin s.

posted July 18, 2007 at 11:17 pm


“The societal pressure that ultimately led to his execution was as much his challenge to the abuse in the economic system as much as it was to any religious customs.”
I am challenging you. This is incorrect.



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nad2

posted July 19, 2007 at 12:08 am


the overwhelming majority of confederate soldiers did not own slaves or come from families that did. the point – people do not always do what is in their economic best interest, but allow rich people who benefit financially from a certain position to manipulate them, often through fear or bias, into doing what is ultimately to the poor people’s economic detriment and to the rich people’s economic benefit. i see the same w/, inter alia, supply-side economic theory for taxation, deregulation of business, dismantling of the civil justice system, and tax cuts for the richest among us, all helping to herald in the new gilded age with a gross gap between the rich and poor, relying on the ‘some folks are just out to get something for nothing’ and ‘raise taxes on the rich and the poor will lose their jobs’ propaganda that the poor folks buy into but will never benefit from.



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linda malloy

posted July 19, 2007 at 12:20 am


The Republican Political Machine is the most destructive force in America.
Look back on the policies of the past thirty years. Devaluation of wages, pensions and health benefits. Lax gun control. Destabilization of State and County financial bases with Prop. 13 type legislation. Outrageous non-enforcement of immigration laws. Wanting to FORCE other people’s children to have unwanted babies. No control on credit interest rates. Non existent oversight of mortgage lending practices. The Military-Industrial Complex leadership mentality. Destruction of our diplomatic excellence. Destruction of our military credibility. Lies about the inflation rate. Hiding the Warren Commission Report on the
Kennedy Assasination (Gerald Ford and Arlen Specter were on that commission). Destruction of responsible, investigative media. Twenty seven million illegals allowed in and no adequate housing built for them. Consequently, they have
taken over affordable housing which is required for our own to become upwardly mobile. The destruction of traditional Christian values under the mask of “Conservative Christianity.” The promotion of hate rhetoric as their weapon of choice during elections.



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Donny

posted July 19, 2007 at 12:23 am


It is the Democrats that tax the poor, lower middle class and middle class literally out of their homes.
That is NOT a Christian concept.
Property taxes is extortion, blackmail and thugery. Not to mention it is oppressive communism.
It is the way of the “Progressive/Liberal Democrat.”
That is to say extortion, blackmail and thugery.
The rich can pay it. They can also fight it. How hard is it for Oprah to live on “half” of her half a billion dollars?
But the lower and middle class peoples must trudge through life oppressed by the taxation imposed on them by Democrats.
Welcome to the hellish world desired and implemented by Jim Wallis and his elitist Leftists.



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nad2

posted July 19, 2007 at 12:32 am


preach, sister linda



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jesse

posted July 19, 2007 at 1:56 am


Alan,
Jesus told the rich man to sell all he had to give to the poor because his heart was on his wealth rather than God. It was by no means a prescription for everyone. Of course, the early Christian community shared everything, but this was also one Christian community which is much different than the secular government we have today.
I agree with you that the rich should help provide for the poor. But when you are forceably taking their money away from them, doesn’t that rob them of the opportunity to act charitably? Where is charity in this redistributive economic system?
I understand how the Year of Jubilee could be used to advocate for specific types of redistributive policies…mainly cancellation of debts. But is Wallis or anyone seriously proposing this? If so, that’d be great, because I’ve got a heck of a lot of student loans that need canceling! The Year of Jubilee also took place in the context of a theocracy, where people were put to death for idolatry. For these reasons, applying this to our present economic system seems pretty shaky to me.



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jesse

posted July 19, 2007 at 1:59 am


Just for reference, here are the federal income tax brackets that we are currently operating under: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax_in_the_United_States
As you can see, it’s still pretty progressive.



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Moderatelad

posted July 19, 2007 at 8:11 am


Yes – there are many that are making millions every year. Talk to some of them and they will tell you that they did so by helping others become wealthy. OK – yes there are the Enrons of the world. But contrast that with the Amways of the world who have made many avg people millionairs. (no – I am not a distributer…)
Many people went without for years to start a company and are now making a very good income. Most people are not willing to do that nor do they have the dream or vision to do something.
Yes they make millions of dollors and they pay their taxes on that money. They also employ thousands of people so that they can buy a car – house – go out for dinner etc.
At least they are helping their fellowman, and some in other ways that we will never know about. They didn’t make their millions bootlegging Booze and then move the money off shore so that it is not taxed at such a ‘high rate’.
Have a great day –
.



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Sarasotakid

posted July 19, 2007 at 9:17 am


“Yes – there are many that are making millions every year. Talk to some of them and they will tell you that they did so by helping others become wealthy.”
I am sure that that is true. But you would agree that at least some of these stories of helping others on their way up, are just that- stories. Stories invented to allay their guilty consciences.
O”K – yes there are the Enrons of the world. But contrast that with the Amways of the world who have made many avg people millionairs. (no – I am not a distributer…)”
In my opinion, Amway is a crass pyramid scheme. Yes, some have made millions off of it and their products can be good. But you have to have a whole network of people working under you to make money. In some ways that is no different from any other business. But Amway takes on this almost cultish way of doing things- pep rallys, frequent meetings, etc. It hardly stands as a model I would want to follow nor is it a model of how we need to have some level of income equalization.



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Wolverine

posted July 19, 2007 at 10:15 am


Moderatelad,
While I think that the cooperative aspects of free-market economics tend to get underplayed generally, I have to issue a caution about Amway-Quixtar.
While I’d stop short of calling it a cult, there is pretty strong evidence out there that a lot of The company’s distributor networks have degenerated into pyramid-like scams that resort to dishonest and manipulative methods to keep people in the system. It is also very likely that Amway itself is aware of the problem and has decided to condone it.
There are a lot of good companies that have been very profitable and at the same time contributed to the well-being of society. I have serious doubts that Amway is one of them.
Wolverine



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Steve-a-Reno

posted July 19, 2007 at 10:28 am


Jesse & Mick, you have simplified your defense of innate greed by the ultra wealthy too easily. There is more to this than just the base federal income tax or progressivity. The middle class does not have access to the best lobbyists, lawyers, and accountants, that can and do change all the rules and regulations to benefit the empire owners in terms of deductions, credits, and acquiring corporate welfare from the government. They get so much from the government (like protected markets, tax incentives, special face meetings with lawmakers) they don’t even bash the government like you often do when you take up for them and their ways.
They can get special favors from the judiciary when things go wrong and they get caught. They get special attention from everyone they deal with. They are adored by the masses. They become idols.
Our concern and assistance must be better focused on the middle and lower classes for I have learned they don’t have any power and they often vote for people that take it from them and give it to the top 2%. The taxes we owe are just dues we pay in order to live in America with a large and strong military, a decent transportation system, an ambulance that shows up to assist you, and even parks and lakes.
Some ultra rich give back a great deal and for this they are blessed and the most happy. Those who only hoard their wealth are seldom happy.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 19, 2007 at 10:43 am


Keep your progressive tax system to your self. I clean houses for a living, and my income greatly depends on the rich being taxed less.
If you really believe that one … Besides, most employers are rich people, but most rich people are not employers, even indirectly.



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E

posted July 19, 2007 at 10:55 am


Jesse, you need to learn a little more about the tax system. If you simply look at the tax brackets on wikipedia, of course it looks like it’s pretty progressive. For the majority of Americans who make well under $50,000 per year we can simply fill out a 1040 EZ form in less than an hour and is between 2-10 pages, our tax rate will be fairly close to what the charts say. Then look at the tax forms that people who make millions which could be hundreds to thousands of pages long. Most of those extra pages are tax breaks for things most people have never heard of. I was just reading an article in Newsweek recently where Warren Buffett said he would give anyone $50,000 if they could prove him wrong in saying that he pays less as a percentage of his income as than his secretary or one of his janitors. There is much more behind taxes than just simply looking at the tax brackets.



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Paul C. Quillman

posted July 19, 2007 at 12:19 pm


Rick
I can look at my income (and number of jobs I have to hold at one time) and see a direct correlation between that and the current tax rates. When taxes are lowered, I get more business, I also have to work fewer jobs to make ends meet. Right now, my sole income comes from my house cleaning business. If the Bush tax cuts sunset, and ae not made permanent, I will loose about half my business, and thus have to pick up a couple of extra jobs to feed my family. By taxing the rich, you take food off of my table, and keep me away from my wife and kids more.



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Anonymous

posted July 19, 2007 at 12:34 pm


As a general rule of thumb anyone who is rich and pays more than ten percent of their income in federal income tax does so voluntarily. They simply are not using the tax breaks built into the system.
Jesse, Warren Buffet should know what he is talking about.
We do not need to protect the rich from taxation. They do a very good job of it all by themselves.
It is the middle class that needs the help.
A flat tax is probably the way to achieve this. It would keep it simple and let everyone see what they are actually paying. This in turn would help us keep Congress on a spending leash.
But who wants that to happen?



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jesse

posted July 19, 2007 at 12:39 pm


E,
That’s probably an argument for simplifying the tax code, then. Raising taxes on the top 1% you speak of would likely lead to even more sheltering of their income and would not necessarily result in an increase in revenue.



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Moderatelad

posted July 19, 2007 at 12:57 pm


Posted by: Sarasotakid | July 19, 2007 9:17 AM
Posted by: Wolverine | July 19, 2007 10:15 AM
OK – In the years that Amway has been in business – I believe that they have changed their structure 2 maybe 3 times. Each time, the advantage/benefit that was the result of the change went to the person closest to the ‘customer’. It is not a pyramid – it is Multi-level. You can advance at your own rate and your sponser/upline can not keep you from doing so. You can work and build you business and make more money than your sponser if you desire.
If more companies had structured their business that way – our ecconomy would be a lot stronger.
Yes – corperate America has faults but what other country has the ability to create wealth like US? Let’s make the corrections needed but not throw the baby out with the bath.
Have a great day –
.



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kevin s.

posted July 19, 2007 at 1:07 pm


“I was just reading an article in Newsweek recently where Warren Buffett said he would give anyone $50,000 if they could prove him wrong in saying that he pays less as a percentage of his income as than his secretary or one of his janitors. There is much more behind taxes than just simply looking at the tax brackets.”
It would depend on how his secretary invested his or her money. No amount of economic redistribution is going to eliminate this phenomena short of simplifying the tax code rather drastically. I don’t see how this indicates that Jesse needs to learn more about the tax system.



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aaron

posted July 19, 2007 at 1:22 pm


Jesus told the rich man to sell all he had to give to the poor because his heart was on his wealth rather than God. It was by no means a prescription for everyone.
*rolls eyes and groans*
and the woman caught in adultery was by no means a prescription for everyone either right?
*eagerly awaits the forthcoming conboluted justifications*



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kevin s.

posted July 19, 2007 at 1:45 pm


“and the woman caught in adultery was by no means a prescription for everyone either right?”
Actually, it wasn’t, which isn’t to say that I support stoning adulterers.



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jesse

posted July 19, 2007 at 2:03 pm


Aaron,
If you think this was a prescription for everyone, have you sold all your possessions and given the money to the poor?



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 19, 2007 at 3:00 pm


FYI, the woman caught in adultery ended up being let go because it was exposed as a sting operation to get Jesus in trouble.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 19, 2007 at 3:28 pm


It would depend on how his secretary invested his or her money. No amount of economic redistribution is going to eliminate this phenomena short of simplifying the tax code rather drastically. I don’t see how this indicates that Jesse needs to learn more about the tax system.
You assume, but I don’t, thagt they have enough money to invest vis-a-vis living expenses, which is part of Gates’ point.



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aaron

posted July 19, 2007 at 4:00 pm


::Actually, it wasn’t, which isn’t to say that I support stoning adulterers.
So adultery is ok, since only that one woman was prescribed to sin no more?
::Aaron,
If you think this was a prescription for everyone, have you sold all your possessions and given the money to the poor?

As I am not christian, the words put into Jesus’ mouth by much later anonymous authors have no compelling authority over me.
::FYI, the woman caught in adultery ended up being let go because it was exposed as a sting operation to get Jesus in trouble.
FYI, I scored a perfect 36 on the ACT reading comprehension section.



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Mick sheldon

posted July 19, 2007 at 4:09 pm


Jesse said
If you think this was a prescription for everyone, have you sold all your possessions and given the money to the poor?
I find that the lesson you explained here should be basic BIBLE 101 . Interesting those would use it as justification for political purposes to tax the rich . Obviously it is different for someone else to take that money from the rich man and give it to the poor . Its a totally different subject , this scripture neiter supports nor condemns that political position .
Not only is the rich man being left out of the decision, the advantage of giving to the poor is totally lost on him , and the poor persons thankfulness and feeling og obligation is totally removed .
It also does not justify allowing the rich to skip out on paying taxes either. we need to get past such assumptions .



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aaron

posted July 19, 2007 at 4:26 pm


You assume, but I don’t, thagt they have enough money to invest vis-a-vis living expenses, which is part of Gates’ point.
And many people do not even make 1% of the sound financial decisions Buffet has. Many people still seem to expect that sitting at a machine and punching a button to produce a widget entitles them to high wages and benefits. Last I checked this was still America and people were still responsible for their own well-being, though the sense of entitlement is growing (perhaps consumerism works too well).



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Jack

posted July 19, 2007 at 7:05 pm


The reason the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer has very little to do with the tax structure and a lot to do with the banking system. The rich bankers can print new money to serve their interests. The increase the money supply makes prices go up. People with fixed incomes (like wages or pensions) find it harder to get by while the rich reap the benefits.



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Bruce

posted July 19, 2007 at 7:41 pm


Jeff and Kevin S,
Sorry, I couldn’t get back to you sooner. Why do I think Jesus represented a serious economic challenge to his time, a challenge that was an important part of why people rallied in support of his execution? Let’s start with his throwing the moneychangers out of the temple. The temple system in Jesus time was more than just a religious institution. This was a theocracy, where the Pharisees functioned, not just a clergy, but as interpreter of the law. They were the lawyers and judges of the time. A great deal of economic business took place in and around the Temple which was THE central meeting place. The issue with the moneychangers was not just that they cheated people. They couldn’t have functioned without the acceptance of the Pharisees. The pressure to sacrifice at the Temple was much stronger then, than any pressure to “give to the church” is now. Temple sacrifice was central to a man’s reputation, a reputation that was needed to do business in Israel at that time. The sacrifices amounted to a second level of taxation, above and beyond taxes to Rome. To allow this burden to be corrupted by the moneychangers was a clear economic abuse, allowed by the powerful people of the time.
Second, early in His ministry, Jesus gave a speech at the synagogue, back in his hometown of Nazareth. (Luke 4:16-32 He starts with a statement that includes the phrase, “He (God) has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners……..and to proclaim THE YEAR OF THE LORD’S FAVOR.” Andre Trocme writes of this in his book, JESUS AND THE NONVIOLENT REVOLUTION. He was a french pastor who organized the rescue of thousands of Jews during the Nazi occupation. He maintains that the phrase “year of the Lord’s favor” and the phrase “year of Jubillee” are different translations of the same phrase in Hebrew. Jesus hits on this point early in His ministry. The story goes on that the people are both pleased and amazed, but end up taking him to a cliff to throw him off and kill him. He gets out of it by “walking through the crowd,” which implies that some in the crowd wanted him killed, but some others (the poor?) wanted to protect him.
Trocme goes on to mention numerous other examples. The parable of the prince forgiving a man’s considerable debts, only to have the same man harshly demand payment of a much smaller debt. The story of the rich man who was told he needed to give away all his wealth. Jesus told his disciples to sell their possessions and give to the poor. Trocme’s references in the Gospels just goes on and on. These were not easy lesions to hear. It seems reasonable to think that he pissed off a lot of rich and powerful people.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 19, 2007 at 8:04 pm


Last I checked this was still America and people were still responsible for their own well-being, though the sense of entitlement is growing (perhaps consumerism works too well).
That does not, however, give the rich the right to exploit people, which is happening more and more and has been especially since 1981.



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Brent

posted July 19, 2007 at 8:14 pm


For Richer and Poorer
As Rev. Wallis points out, the facts cannot be gainsaid: the richer are getting richer and the poor and the middle class are getting poorer in today’s America.
To address his call for a new populism I think we should also sort out some of the frames of reference in terms of which economic policy is framed. Neoliberal economic theories (roughly less government and more market) espoused by Hayek and later Freidman became the economic cornerstone of the Reagan Revolution. Following the ideas of the Democratic Leadership Conference, the Clinton Administration advocated an accommodation with the neoliberal world view when it shifted the Democratic party to the economic “center” wherein market solutions to social problems (read: more growth to be shared by all?) became dogma to many on the left. In this new center economic freedom trumps many forms of economic equality.
Thus, if one thinks in terms of the political compass (see: http://www.globalissues.org/TradeRelated/FreeTrade/Neoliberalism.asp for an admittedly left reading), one will search in vain for any major party to the left of center who one could call on to fight for greater economic equality-there is no there there. It is just in the air and like the air believed to be a natural phenomenon, the veritable source of life itself: private choice, often in the form of charitable contributions, and more personal responsibility rather than piece-meal social engineering or grand programmatic initiatives is the preferred way to solve economic problems.
So, it seems there is a two-pronged problem for a revived populism: a revision of the terms of political and economic discourse to include more equality and thus the needs of the less well off, and the development of a populist left so that one can enter a room, turn left, and have somewhere to hang you hat.



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TimR

posted July 19, 2007 at 11:09 pm


“the richer are getting richer and the poor and the middle class are getting poorer in today’s America.”
Absolutely false, the rich are getting richer and so are the poor. You really don’t think the standard of living has improved dramatically over a generation? If you want me to post statistics supporting this I can. But, I just read a passage today in Atlas Shrugged commenting on money – more specifically, the nonsense of viewing those who create money as evil, and those that take and redistribute money they didn’t create as noble.
“Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except by the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return.”
“Then you will see the rise of the double standard — the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money — the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law — men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims — then money becomes its creators’ avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they’ve passed a law to disarm them”
“If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose — because it contains all the others — the fact that they were the people who created the phrase ‘to make money.’ No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity — to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted, or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created.”
“Yet these were the words for which Americans were denounced by the rotted cultures of the looters’ continents. Now the looters’ credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide — as, I think, he will.”



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 20, 2007 at 12:13 am


But, I just read a passage today in Atlas Shrugged commenting on money – more specifically, the nonsense of viewing those who create money as evil, and those that take and redistribute money they didn’t create as noble.
Please — no one is saying this. What we’re complaining about is that the rich use their financial heft to buy more power for themselves at the expense of everyone else.
And your statement that the poor also are getting richer — baloney. Just the cost of prescription drugs and health care by themsevles (if they have them) eat into that “surplus.”



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Jack

posted July 20, 2007 at 12:19 am


TimR,
I think you may be responding to me so I will make a reply. I share your support for markets, free enterprise, and business because, as you say, these things increase wealth and make everyone better off. As you say, those who wish to use the law and government to transfer wealth end up hurting everyone by preventing the creation of more wealth.
Money, in the traditional sense, is a representation of that wealth, and bankers and financiers provide a useful function by acculumating unused gains in wealth(savings) and using them to create more wealth (investments). However, this is not what banks do in our society. The government has given the banks the power of the law to create money out of thin air. By exercising this power, they seize the wealth of the worker by making the representation of the result of his labors worth less (ie. the dollar bills in his pocket will buy less). To add insult to injury, they then lend this stolen wealth back to him at interest.
This leaves the appearance that the poor are “wealthier” than before, afterall they have more “money” and higher salaries than before. However, their ability to purchase goods has declined because prices have risen faster than wages. But don’t more poor people have TVs, cars, etc. then before? Yes, but they have purchased these things on credit. Someone with $100 in goods but $100 in debt is less wealthy than someone with $10 in goods and no debt, especially when the $100 in debt is accruing interest so their future ability to purchase out of earnings is declining even faster.
Millions upon millions of people (especially the poor and middle class) are in overwhelming debt, and what little they have will be washed away if the economy goes south.
So in short, the poor are poorer because their earnings have declined and their debts have risen to match (and often exceed) their assets. This is not the fault of markets, but the fault of the monetary system. A system that allows banks to redistribute money to the rich much as government tries to redistribute it to the poor. Both principles violate market principles and need to be stopped.



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 20, 2007 at 12:56 am


no one is saying this. What we’re complaining about is that the rich use their financial heft to buy more power for themselves at the expense of everyone else.
Rick said
“Why do you have to give the rich a poor personality trait ? Conservatives less caring as liberal , poor more noble then rich , ”
It really should have nothing to do with the debate . For one reason , most of the politicians on the left who seek what you consider better policies are very rich . They are not exploiting people , they are trying to help them . Did they all become rich doing that ? Some might have , I bet they worked quite hard also .
I think I could have been richer , and I bet many could have would have if our priorities were different . Did not have kids , etc.
One of the three biggest indicators of being above the poverty level consist of a HS Diploma , Only having a child in a married relationship plus staying married , and willing to take any job that comes your way .
The third one sounds like baloney to some , not to most of us who have all taken lousy jobs while waiting to get a better one or that job leading into a better one .
Those factors having nothing to do with politics, what I would like to see is government helping people who do those things and still live in poverty . If the democrats could convince me that is what they were doing , I think I would switch parties .



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Anonymous

posted July 20, 2007 at 1:01 am


“FYI, I scored a perfect 36 on the ACT reading comprehension section.”
That is fantastic.
Sincerely,
Mom.
“To allow this burden to be corrupted by the moneychangers was a clear economic abuse, allowed by the powerful people of the time.”
Or, more tersely, they used the synagogue for economic gain. They turned the Lord’s house into a marketplace.
“He maintains that the phrase “year of the Lord’s favor” and the phrase “year of Jubillee” are different translations of the same phrase in Hebrew”
No disrespect to Mr. Trocme, but this is widely understood to refer to Isaiah. As such, Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecy, which angered the Pharisees.
“which implies that some in the crowd wanted him killed, but some others (the poor?) wanted to protect him.”
Not only a parenthetical, but a question mark as well! The attempt to divide allegiance to Christ along the lines of wealthy vs. poor does not survive theological scrutiny. Moreso, Christ was able to peruade the masses that he was the Messiah. As such, they prevented his execution (willfully or not) until God’s appointed time.
“Trocme goes on to mention numerous other examples. The parable of the prince forgiving a man’s considerable debts, only to have the same man harshly demand payment of a much smaller debt.”
This is rather clearly a parable related to God’s forgiveness, and how we must in turn forgive others. To interpret this as a literal statement regarding debt seems almost intentionally obtuse.
“Jesus told his disciples to sell their possessions and give to the poor. Trocme’s references in the Gospels just goes on and on. These were not easy lesions to hear. It seems reasonable to think that he pissed off a lot of rich and powerful people.”
Jesus’s command was to sell possessions and follow him. His primary interest was not to make sure that the poor were compensated (in fact, many of the disciples were lower class themselves). Trocme may have been a wonderful man, but these are the Lord’s words, not his.
That a number of rich and powerful people rejected Christ’s teachings is unsurprising. Jesus supplanted their power structure with one in which eternal prosperity was achieved by grace alone. Jesus was executed for claiming (correctly) that he WAS the Messiah. Grace comes through Christ, not the existing power structures.
So perhaps it is accurate to say that many who held sway with the economic powers of Rome were set against Christ. However, the real issue is that they were set against God. Christ was officially killed for claiming that he was God, not for challenging economic systems, particularly political economic systems.



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kevin s.

posted July 20, 2007 at 1:04 am


Anonymous above was me.



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TimR

posted July 20, 2007 at 2:47 am


“And your statement that the poor also are getting richer — baloney. Just the cost of prescription drugs and health care by themsevles (if they have them) eat into that “surplus.”
Between 1979 and 2004, the proportion of American households with inflation-adjusted incomes below $75,000 fell by 10.1 percentage points, with the largest drop coming in the number of households earning less than $35,000. The reason why drugs and health care are expensive is because we have a lot more drugs and a lot more treatments.
Name any drug that was produced any time in the past that costs more today adjusted for inflation. Praise God for free market innovation.
Jack,
No I wasn’t referring to you. I don’t really care that much about your “rich banker” conspiracy theory. So, after banking hours do they pull a candlestick that leads to a secret passage where they make money in a backroom mint? Prices are communicators of trillions of economic decisions; therefore a few rich bankers cannot just set prices.
I think what you are trying to say is that banks, the Federal Reserve, or someone is making laborers’ dollars worth less which makes everything worth more. Boy, I wish they had some way to measure persistent rise in the general price level, as measured against a standard level of purchasing power…they could call it something like…I don’t know…inflation.
The debt to asset ratio in America is healthy. If Jessica Simpson buys a Mercedes on her black America Express card should we be worried that she is 60k in debt? There are more people in debt because people have more money and can afford more debt. People are in debt because they consume more than they produce. This is probably because the only real consequences for the non payment of a debt is wage garnishment and a bad credit score for seven years.
p.s Kevin S:
I had a good laugh at the: Sincerely,
Mom.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 20, 2007 at 8:01 am


Why do you have to give the rich a poor personality trait? Conservatives less caring as liberal, poor more noble then rich,…
It’s in the Scripture! Have you ever read Isaiah? It’s all over the place there especially. In fact, in Jesus’ day the “health and wealth” gospel was quite rampant among the Pharisees, which is why he directly took it on.
The reason why drugs and health care are expensive is because we have a lot more drugs and a lot more treatments.
Garbage, Kevin — with prescription drugs, the USA is the most expensive place in the world to buy them. Those decisions are actually made on Wall Street, which is always looking for a scapegoat.



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Jeff

posted July 20, 2007 at 9:37 am


Bruce,
Trashing the Temple Courtyard: Scripture tells us the motivation for the Sanhedrin to kill Jesus. He was gathering large crowds who were declaring Him as King (David’s Son). Their fear was the Romans would put down the coming rebellion and they would “lose their place and their nation” This is found in John. Jesus tells us his reason for the trashing of the courtyard . This was the place in the Temple where Gentiles, the blind, women could pray and worship God. It was zeal for His Father’s house that angered Jesus.
Luke 4 is Jesus reading the Isaiah Messianic prophecy in His hometown synagogue. When he is finished reading the crowd is amazed. Jesus declares that this prophecy is fulfilled in their hearing. The confrontation that follows is not about economics but about their lack of faith compared to some Gentiles and Him being a local boy.
I don’t know who Trocme is, but he is either very purposely deceptive in his handling of scripture or not to bright.
Jeff



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Bruce

posted July 20, 2007 at 10:15 am


Jeff and Kevin,
I agree with your point that Jesus was crucified because is was the Messiah. I’m suggesting that Jesus as Messiah was offended by abuse of power by the Pharisees, and that part of that abuse was economic in nature. Having read Trocme’s book, I will agree that at times his arguements are a bit over worked, but his essential points still make sense. His clarification about the similarity of the phrases “the year of jubillee” and ” the year of the Lord” is important to our understanding of why the people of Narzarth became angry enough to want to kill him.



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kevin s.

posted July 20, 2007 at 10:31 am


“Garbage, Kevin — with prescription drugs, the USA is the most expensive place in the world to buy them. Those decisions are actually made on Wall Street, which is always looking for a scapegoat.”
Huh? I did not introduce the statement to which you are responding. However, since I got called out, I’ll throw my ring in here. Prescription drugs are expensive here because we do not have price controls, and are therefore paying for the price controls invoked by other nations.
Other nations have the latitude to invoke price controls because they will simply circumvent the intellectual property rights of drug manufacturers. It is a catch-22, insofar as our dollars provide a disproportionate share of profits for drug manufacturers, but those dollars are used to create new drugs to treat our various ailments.
A better solution would be to play hardball with our socialist friends to the east to put an end to the disparity, but that’s hard to put into a talking point.
At any rate, it is not unfair to say that we are paying for the innovations in the pharmaceutical industry, so TimR has a point. I don’t think anyone would argue that advancements in other fields have contributed to spiraling costs, so the comment is not garbage outright.



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Jeff

posted July 20, 2007 at 11:18 am


Bruce,
No doubt economics came into play in the way the Sanhedrin view the threat of Jesus as Messiah (King). But this was clearly not Jesus teaching. The Luke 4 event just doesn’t fit at all. I’ll look at the use of the phrases you mention but Trocme misses the whole thrust of the text. It is very clear in the text what they were angry about.
Jeff



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 20, 2007 at 1:13 pm


Prescription drugs are expensive here because we do not have price controls, and are therefore paying for the price controls invoked by other nations.
I would say it’s just the opposite: Other nations know how much Big Pharma wants to charge and put the brakes on. There’s no guarantee even without price controls in other countries that they’d cost less here. And that money going for R&D? Please! It goes toward marketing, as R&D isn’t even in American business culture anymore.



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John

posted July 20, 2007 at 1:44 pm


Just as a point of clarrification, ‘markets’ (‘free’ or otherwise) do not create more or less wealth. Markets don’t create anything; they are mechanism of exchange, not production. Oh, and while I’m on ‘wealth’ is not a theological concept, it’s a sociological category.



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kevin s.

posted July 20, 2007 at 2:56 pm


“I would say it’s just the opposite: Other nations know how much Big Pharma wants to charge and put the brakes on. ”
Actually, you are saying the exact same thing, but not calling it a price control. Why can’t pharmaceutical companies charge what they like?
“There’s no guarantee even without price controls in other countries that they’d cost less here.”
Only that this is how the market operates.
“And that money going for R&D? Please! It goes toward marketing, as R&D isn’t even in American business culture anymore.”
So, they spend nothing on R&D? Then what is it that they market?



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Bruce

posted July 20, 2007 at 3:29 pm


Jeff,
I’m always uneasy when someone thinks they know exactly what a passage of scripture means. We reread the Bible because the Holy Spirit is very good at giving us new epiphanies.
Jesus speaks to his old neighbors who probably were both curious and proud of this local boy, who had come back as Teacher. He uses the phrase “Year of Jubilee”, which has been miss translated for us. He uses this language to raise the issue of economic justice, including the obligation to periodically return the means of production to jewish families. This was do be done so that people can work and provide for their families. He then insults his old neighbors by telling them that they won’t make the grade on this issue, and they get mad. I know you don’t want to see this passage that way, but open your heart a bit. I’m not arguing for somekind of socialistic nonsense. I’m not arguing for big government. I’m not arguing for an indiscriminate mass redistribution of wealth. I’m saying that when Jesus spoke in favor of the fullfilment of the jewish law, part of what He wanted fullfilled was the Year of Jubillee portion of the law, something that had never been fullfilled, and something that the Pharisees of His day actively sabotaged. The Jubillee language just wanted people to have the means to support themselves.



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Jack

posted July 20, 2007 at 7:01 pm


TimR,
It’s not a “conspiracy.” It’s right out there in the open. When the Federal Reserve conducts open market operations, they create new money. The Federal Reserve is owned by private banks. Private banks are allowed to use fractional reserve banking, which means they can loan out more money then they have assets. This is the creation of money.
I never said they set prices. I said they caused a decline in purchasing power, which as you say is called inflation. And even government statistics of inflation show that real wages have declined.
And anyone who suggests that the poor’s debt/asset ratio is good hasn’t spent much time around poor people. Bankruptcies were skyrocketing until the Republicans changed the lot to make it harder for poor people to file. And the nation as a whole has a negative savings rate, which means our debt/asset ratio is getting worse.
And its not entirely correct to say that people are in debt because they consume more than they produce. Again, the banks are stealing wealth from the poor through inflationary measures and essentially loaning that wealth back to them at interest. It’s hard to tell what the real value of a laborer’s work is when you monkey around with the money supply.



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Jeff

posted July 20, 2007 at 7:55 pm


Bruce,
“I know you don’t want to see this passage that way, but open your heart a bit.”
I am little uneasy with people who think they can read minds. The passage is pretty straight forward, look at that Isaiah and Luke context. The “Day of the Lord” is the Messianic Age that started when Jesus started His ministry and unfolds further with with time. This is parallel with Jesus’ start of ministry in Matthew and Mark, the fulfillment of Isaiah started immediately with healings and demons being cast out.
The “open your heart a bit” comment is a bit out of hand. Maybe it came across harsher than you meant.
Jeff



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Bruce

posted July 20, 2007 at 9:36 pm


Jeff,
I truely meant no offense. Give me the Isaiah reference. I’ll look at it.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 20, 2007 at 11:18 pm


Only that this is how the market operates.
We’re not talking about the market here. Don’t use that as an excuse.
So, they spend nothing on R&D? Then what is it that they market?
Two different questions. Of course they spend on R&D but not what they say they do. They market products, all right, but lately they’ve been trying to extend their patents so that they don’t go generic so quickly — more money rolling in.



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Jeff

posted July 20, 2007 at 11:19 pm


Isaiah 61:1-



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kevin s.

posted July 21, 2007 at 2:22 am


“We’re not talking about the market here.”
What?



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 21, 2007 at 8:27 am


Nope, Kevin — this is purely an opportunity to rip people off. As I said, those decisions are effectively made on Wall Street, not necessarily according to the dictates of supply and demand. If there were true “economic libertarianism” there would be several sources for pharmaceuticals that would cause competition and keep prices down — but in many cases they make up a practical monopoly.



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kevin s.

posted July 22, 2007 at 11:27 pm


“If there were true “economic libertarianism” there would be several sources for pharmaceuticals that would cause competition and keep prices down”
You are accidentally arguing against patent rights. Without patent rights, a system of economic libertrianism cannot exist, and nobody will research new drugs… At all.



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Anonymous

posted July 25, 2007 at 9:21 pm


You are accidentally arguing against patent rights. Without patent rights, a system of economic libertrianism cannot exist, and nobody will research new drugs… At all.
Oh, no, the drug companies will still make their money … just not as much because their stock won’t be as valuable.



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John

posted August 1, 2007 at 5:21 pm


Well, for an Englishman reading all of this it is very sad to see so many Christians arguing from a position of ‘enlightened self-interest’. Of course, there is nothing wrong with ‘enlightened self-interest’ just as long as you are happy to leave Jesus out of the rationale.



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Worried American

posted March 31, 2008 at 3:51 pm


Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike ‘lesser’ estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, and material assets held by America’s richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own ‘humanitarian’ spin on it. Calling attention to her own ‘good will’. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST 1% HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Don’t fall for any of their ‘humanitarian’ CRAP. ITS A SHAM. THESE PEOPLE ARE CAUSING THE SAME PROBLEMS THEY PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT. Ask any professor of economics. Money does not grow on trees. The government can’t just print up more on a whim. At any given time, there is a relative limit to the wealth within ANY economy of ANY size. So when too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world’s richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy. Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars which have been transfered FROM US TO THEM. All over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not ‘trickle down’ as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They just keep getting richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductible crumbs and call themselves ‘humanitarians’. Cashing in on the PR and getting even richer the following year. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. Their bogus efforts to make the world a better place can not possibly succeed. Any ‘humanitarian’ progress made in one area will be lost in another. EVERY SINGLE TIME. IT ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. The current US recession will drag on for years and lead into the worst US depression of all time. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. So don’t fall for any of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductible contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. SEND A “THANK YOU” NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGenerous, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. Now, there are commercial ties between nearly every industry and every public figure. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘good will’ BS. ITS A LIE. If you fall for it, then you’re a fool. If you see any real difference between the moral character of a celebrity, politician, attorney, or executive, then you’re a fool. No offense fellow citizens. But we have been mislead by nearly every public figure. WAKE UP PEOPLE. THEIR GOAL IS TO WIN THE GAME. The 1% club will always say or do whatever it takes to get as rich as possible. Without the slightest regard for anything or anyone but themselves. Reaganomics. Their idea. Loans from China. Their idea. NAFTA. Their idea. Outsourcing. Their idea. Sub-prime. Their idea. High energy prices. Their idea. Obscene health care charges. Their idea. The commercial lobbyist. Their idea. The multi-million dollar lawsuit. Their idea. The multi-million dollar endorsement deal. Their idea. $200 cell phone bills. Their idea. $200 basketball shoes. Their idea. $30 late fees. Their idea. $30 NSF fees. Their idea. $20 DVDs. Their idea. Subliminal advertising. Their idea. Brainwash plots on TV. Their idea. Vioxx, and Celebrex. Their idea. The MASSIVE campaign to turn every American into a brainwashed, credit card, pharmaceutical, love-sick, celebrity junkie. Their idea. All of the above shrink the middle class, concentrate the world’s wealth and resources, create a dominoe effect of socio-economic problems, and wreak havok on society. All of which have been CREATED AND ENDORSED by celebrities, athletes, executives, entrepreneurs, attorneys, and politicians. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for any of their ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTIBLE PR CRAP. In many cases, the ‘charitable’ contribution is almost entirely offset. Not to mention the opportunity to plug their name, image, product, and ‘good will’ all at once. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. These filthy pigs even have the nerve to throw a fit and spin up a misleading defense with regard to ‘federal tax revenue’. ITS A SHAM. THEY SCREWED UP THE EQUATION TO BEGIN WITH. If the middle and lower classes had a greater share of the pie, they could easily cover a greater share of the federal tax revenue. They are held down in many ways because of greed. Wages remain stagnant for millions because the executives, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, and entrepreneurs, are paid millions. They over-sell, over-charge, under-pay, outsource, cut jobs, and benefits to increase their bottom line. As their profits rise, so do the stock values. Which are owned primarily by the richest 5%. As more United States wealth rises to the top, the middle and lower classes inevitably suffer. This reduces the potential tax reveue drawn from those brackets. At the same time, it wreaks havok on middle and lower class communities and increases the need for financial aid. Not to mention the spike in crime because of it. There is a dominoe effect to consider. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. But our leaders refuse to acknowledge this. Instead they come up with one trick after another to milk the system and screw the majority. These decisions are heavily influensed by the 1% club. Every year, billions of federal tax dollars are diverted behind the scenes back to the rich and their respective industries. Loans from China have been necessary to compensate in part, for the red ink and multi-trillion dollar transfer of wealth to the rich. At the same time, the feds have been pushing more financial burden onto the states who push them lower onto the cities. Again, the hardship is felt more by the majority and less by the 1% club. The rich prefer to live in exclusive areas or upper class communities. They get the best of everything. Reliable city services, new schools, freshly paved roads, upscale parks, ect. The middle and lower class communities get little or nothing without a local tax increase. Which, they usually can’t afford. So the red ink flows followed by service cuts and lay-offs. All because of the OBSCENE distribution of bottom line wealth in this country. So when people forgive the rich for their incredible greed and then praise them for paying a greater share of the FEDERAL income taxes, its like nails on a chalk board. I can not accept any the
ory that our economy would suffer in any way with a more reasonable distribution of wealth. Afterall, it was more reasonable 30 years ago. Before Reaganomics came along. Before GREED became such an epidemic. Before we had an army of over-paid executives, bankers, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, doctors, investors, entrepreneurs, developers, and sold-out politicians to kiss their asses. As a nation, we were in much better shape. Strong middle class, free and clear assets, lower crime rate, more widespread prosperity, stable job market, lower deficit, ect. Our economy as a whole was much more stable and prosperous for the majority. WITHOUT LOANS FROM CHINA. Now, we have a more obscene distribution of bottom line wealth than ever before. We have a sold-out government, crumbling infrastructure, energy crisis, home forclosure epidemic, 13 figure national deficit, and 12 figure annual shortfall. The cost of living is higher than ever before. Most people can’t even afford basic health care. ALL BECAUSE OF GREED. I really don’t blame the 2nd -5th percentiles in general. No economy could ever function without some reasonable scale of personal wealth and income. But it can’t be allowed to run wild like a mad dog. ALBERT EINSTEIN TRIED TO MAKE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. UNBRIDLED CAPITALISM ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK. TOP HEAVY ECONOMIES ALWAYS COLLAPSE. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The American dream will be shattered. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. Oprah, Angelina, Brad, Bono, and Bill are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE HUMANITARIAN. EXTREME WEALTH MAKES WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. WITHOUT WORLD PROSPERITY, THERE WILL NEVER BE WORLD PEACE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Of course, the rich will throw a fit and call me a madman.. Of course, they will jump to small minded conclusions about ‘jealousy’, ‘envy’, or ‘socialism’. Of course, their ignorant fans will do the same. You have to expect that. But I speak the truth. If you don’t believe me, then copy this entry and run it by any professor of economics or socio-economics. Then tell a friend. Call the local radio station. Re-post this entry or put it in your own words. Be one of the first to predict the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time and explain its cause. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.



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Why I Work for Immigration Reform (by Patty Kupfer)
When I tell people that I work on immigration reform, they usually laugh or say, "way to pick an easy topic." Everyday it feels like there is more fear, more hate. Raids are picking up in Nevada, California, and New York. A number of senators who supported comprehensive reform only a few months ago

posted 12:30:52pm Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Audio: Jim Wallis on "Value Voters" on The Tavis Smiley Show
Last week Jim was on The Tavis Smiley Show and talked about how the changing political landscape will affect the upcoming '08 election. Jim and Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state, debated and discussed both the impact of "value voters" on the election and what those values entail. + Down

posted 10:11:56am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Verse of the Day: 'peace to the far and the near'
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort, creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord; and I will heal them. But the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss u

posted 9:35:01am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Daily News Digest (by Duane Shank)
the latest news on Mideast, Iran, Romney-Religious right, Blog action day, Turkey, SCHIP, Iran, Aids-Africa, India, Budget, Brownback-slavery apology, Canada, and selected op-eds. Sign up to receive our daily news summary via e-mail » Blog action day. Thousands of bloggers unite in blitz of green

posted 9:31:25am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »




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